Wwoofing to see the world on a small budget

by Sheri_Oz

Open to adventure? Maybe Wwoofing (World Wide Organization of Organic Farms) is for you: meet people, learn a language and culture, see the world, and help all at the same time.

Wwoofing provides a unique opportunity for travel, learning and immersion in the culture of the places you visit. You get room and board in exchange for working on the organic enterprise - either a farm or cottage industry. Sometimes your host will take you on an excursion to local markets or villages.

This is a great way for individuals, couples or families to see the world.

How to Wwoof

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms
This is the website of the umbrella organization for all wwoofing enterprises the world around. Most of the questions you have will be answered on this site. Just pick a place anywhere in the world and look to see if they have any host farms for you to volunteer at.

Great stories about Wwoofing, Even if Not in France
WWOOFing Adventures Down Under: Living and Working on 36 ...

The Advantages of Wwoofing

1. You essentially only pay you transportation costs and for any souvenirs you may buy. During the time of your stay at the host farm, you have your lodgings and food covered.

2. You can learn the local language if you want. Whether a beginning or advanced student of the language, you will definitely add to your language skills if you put in the effort to do so. Hosts are most likely quite happy to have you practise speaking in their language as long as it does not interfere with their ability to explain tasks in a way you can understand.

3. You learn other skills - I learned to milk goats, to take goats and sheep to pasture with a sheep dog, to make one kind of cheese. Other skills that can be learned are the various aspects of permaculture, such as composting, building construction using local materials, cropping using natural means of weed and pest control, and more.

4. You are immersed in the local culture and you learn your host family's way of life:  daily schedule, meal planning and eating patterns, social interactions, family ties, community dynamics.

5. Meet people from other parts of the world. There may be other wwoofers together with you and you thereby meet other interesting people of all ages who are wwoofing each for their own reasons. You hear about other places that may be worth visiting and you learn more about how to make the wwoofing experience a hassel-free enjoyable one.

Possible Problems with Wwoofing

and how to avoid them

1. The reality may be very different from the impressions you got before you committed to go. In order to have a better picture of the place and the hosts, check the Internet for write-ups on the particular farm, email the hosts beforehand and ask about the place and their expectations for the wwoofer. Make sure you know the kind of work you will be asked to do, how many hours per day and days per week you are expected to work, what the sleep arrangement are, whether or not you eat with the family, how far it is from the local town and transportation to and from the farm. This last point will let you know how dependent you are on the hosts for getting into town and back if you should want a change of pace.

2. If you have any particular health issues or dietary requirements, check with the host first that this will not be a problem. I have problem knees and I spoke with the host on the phone before deciding to volunteer on his farm. He had no problem with that.  Are you vegetarian?  That is likely not a problem, but do check first.

3. The host is unfriendly, overdemanding, you are doing work you did not expect to do - if you had exchanged emails in advance, you have his email to draw on to reclarify expectations. If you are not happy, you are not under contract and can leave at any time.  If you find yourself having this kind of problem repeatedly, the problem may be with you and not the hosts. If the host was misleading and/or inconsiderate of the volunteer, please write to the wwoof organization to which the farm belongs and tell them of your experience. Without feedback, they have no idea what is going on and cannot take action.

My First Wwoofing Experience in France

A Brief Diary with Photos

In September 2011 I spent two weeks practising my French and learning animal husbandry at an organic farm in the Pyrenees. My hosts were wonderful. The town was quaint and picturesque. To get an idea of what wwoofing is like, you can read about my experience and see some of the photos I took here.

A Related Article.

About Permaculture and Sustainable Farming.

A Weekend Seminar on Permaculture from Woof Israel

Updated: 10/01/2012, Sheri_Oz
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EliasZanetti on 03/12/2013

Wwoofing sounds like a great idea! Thanks for sharing it! Cheers!

zteve on 08/25/2012

I had not heard of this before. It sounds really interesting!

Tolovaj on 08/25/2012

This is great news. Thanks, Sheri!

Sheri_Oz on 08/25/2012

A lot of the wwoofing hosts accept families - in many places around the world. Just join the wwoof organization in the country you wish to visit and you will get the full list of farms/enterprises together with email addresses and phone numbers and check with the hosts in the area you want to visit and they will let you know.

Tolovaj on 08/25/2012

This sound great and very much like my kind of traveling. i always enjoyed most in places where I got a chance to mix with locals. I never particularly liked hotels and similar places made for tourists.
Are there any wwoofers where you can go with a family?

DavidPaulWagner on 03/27/2012

I had heard about Wwoofing before but now, with your help, understand this interesting idea in more detail. Thanks! I enjoyed reading your Squidoo lens on your time in the Pyrenees too!

sheilamarie on 01/17/2012

We often meet people locally who are wwoofers. There are some great experiences out there and I'm sure many of these host farms could not manage without the help some of these volunteers provide. Organic farmers are often barely making it. Good for you that you were able to do this. Sounds as if you learned a lot.

Holistic_Health on 11/19/2011

Thanks for introducing me to this. Looks interesting!

Sheri_Oz on 11/19/2011

Let me add, then, Jimmie, that as a homeschooling Mom you might want to find out where there is a wwoofing host near your hometown and go there for a short time as a family or just with your daughter. There are wwoofers who go with kids and it may be a unique educational opportunity at a "price that can't be beat".

Jimmie on 11/19/2011

Wow, this is totally new to me and quite fascinating. I can't say that I've ever longed to work on an organic farm, but some of the tasks you learned do sound interesting.

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